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Math Programming Games

First Self-Replicating Creature Spawned In Conway's Game of Life 241

Posted by Soulskill
from the emergent-gameplay dept.
Calopteryx writes "New Scientist has a story on a self-replicating entity which inhabits the mathematical universe known as the Game of Life. 'Dubbed Gemini, [Andrew Wade's] creature is made of two sets of identical structures, which sit at either end of the instruction tape. Each is a fraction of the size of the tape's length but, made up of two constructor arms and one "destructor," play a key role. Gemini's initial state contains three of these structures, plus a fourth that is incomplete. As the simulation progresses the incomplete structure begins to grow, while the structure at the start of the tape is demolished. The original Gemini continues to disassemble as the new one emerges, until after nearly 34 million generations, new life is born.'"
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First Self-Replicating Creature Spawned In Conway's Game of Life

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2010 @12:31PM (#32603576)

    I thought someone had come up with a glider gun which created & shot out other glider guns... this was about 20 years ago from my memory...

  • by Tacvek (948259) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @12:37PM (#32603658) Journal

    From the article:

    In fact, this is arguably the single most impressive and important pattern ever devised.

    Really? Not the universal Turing machine pattern, or the pattern that emulates the game of life itself? Those both seem more impressive to me.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @12:38PM (#32603666)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evoloop [wikipedia.org]

    Not exactly Conway's game of life, but similar concept, and it is certainly possible to encode this in Conway's game of life.
  • by russotto (537200) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @12:42PM (#32603734) Journal
    If a new pattern is created while an old one is destroyed, it's not self-replicating; it's just moving.
  • some alien 43 dimensional child's entry in the local science fair

    "look: i've created self-replicating life based on a few simple rules!"

    and the judge says: "but it's only 4 dimensions, and one of the dimensions is only one way. shoddy, very simplistic, not a good middle school level effort"

    to which the alien's mom says: "don't worry honey, next year we'll put baking soda and vinegar in a paper mache cone and simulate a volcano!"

    and the alien child says: "that's ok mom, i don't like science anymore, i want to be a ranch hand. bye bye, little universe critters, i always thought you were cute"

    and then he pulls the plug on his simulation, and trillions of animal, plant, and human lives on earth and septillions of lives on the other inhabited planets cease to exist in a puff

  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @12:58PM (#32603928)
    My favorite CA is WireWorld. The designs in the CA look and behave like circuit boards. People have designed some very complex "computers" in it.

    WireWorld on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

    This flash-based wireworld app is listing prime numbers. [rezmason.net]
  • by russotto (537200) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:01PM (#32603984) Journal

    You mean like a human giving birth to another human and then dying off?

    If every time one human was born, an identical human died, it would be like that.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @01:13PM (#32604154) Journal

    If I understand correctly, it creates two copies while self-destructing in the process. So it is, indeed, replicating.

  • Re:Nanites (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smellsofbikes (890263) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @02:46PM (#32605222) Journal
    That's a superb joke, but if you're bored and want to read some extensions of the idea you should find a copy of Venus Equilateral [wikipedia.org] by George Smith some time. In one of the stories, engineers make (by mistake, basically) a device that can replicate other devices, and then realize it can replicate itself, so they build a few mostly for fun. Since they're on an isolated space station they transmit information about what they've done back to earth and then find out that earth's economy is collapsing because everyone's either duplicating money or duplicating duplication machines and there's no reason to buy anything. Smith explores how that affects the economy for a while (one character's snooty wife has to stop being a socialite and get a job as a nurse, because Smith was basically a 1930's misogynist) and then has his engineers cook up a physical item that contains energy, which the matter duplicator can't duplicate (since it only deals with matter) to act as a new basis for currency. He wrote all this in the 1940's, so, y'know, prior art and all that.
  • Re:Third! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by durrr (1316311) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @02:51PM (#32605292)
    Detrimental traits such as lactose-intolerance can be preserved if there is no or weak evolutionary pressure for this trait. But over time and changing enviroments it's the beneficial traits that are more likely to preserve the genotype.
    A better wording is perhaps that the enviromental viability of a geno and phenotype is what is the driving force behind evolution.
  • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @02:59PM (#32605410) Journal

    From the article:

    In fact, this is arguably the single most impressive and important pattern ever devised.

    Really? Not the universal Turing machine pattern, or the pattern that emulates the game of life itself? Those both seem more impressive to me.

    Well, he did say "arguably", which is arguably the worst weasel word in the history of mankind.

    FUNNY! But at the same time, I think weasel words are critically important. Science should be based on weasel words: may, could, indicates, possibly, probably, likely. When you hear someone saying non-weasel words: is, will, shall, always -- you're either talking to God or to someone who talks to God. Mathematicians, for instance, which is why they can say that in base 10, two plus two IS four. But past that, I'm all for weasel words.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 17, 2010 @03:29PM (#32605750)

    You'd like 'The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag' by Heinlein (apologies if I've spelled anyone's name wrong).

  • Good thing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mangu (126918) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:34PM (#32606406)

    Is the "economy collapsing" a good thing or a bad thing? A good thing because everyone has all they want for free? Or a bad thing because now that there's no incentive to pay for products (information, entertainment, ideas) that there's no incentive to create new products (information, entertainment, ideas)?

    If not being paid removes the incentive to create new products, then how do you explain Linux, or any other Free Software?

    Not getting paid to do it means that products, entertainment, information, ideas will be created not for the necessity of earning a living, but for love of the product.

    Imagine a world where anyone is free to create exactly what he or she wants, the way it should be done, not being constrained by a boss. Imagine you having access to all those creations, being able to choose freely which one you like best, not having to worry about the price.

  • Re:Nanites (Score:3, Interesting)

    by geekoid (135745) <(dadinportland) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @04:50PM (#32606582) Homepage Journal

    Poverty will be eradicated

    no, it will change because the definition of wealth will change.
    Original work, labor, land. These will be the measure of wealth.

    "Wall Street will disappear into uselessness and "

    No, it will change to be used for people to by and sell shares of things that can't be duplicated.
    Original art*, manual labor and so on. When you want landscape done, what do you use to motivate people to do the work for you? A sky scraper? Barter? Land?

    "will have 16 hours a day of time to do whatever they want."
    Why do you assume they won't be beholden to a landlord?

    *yes the art can be duplicataty, but not the originality.

  • Re:Nanites (Score:3, Interesting)

    by selven (1556643) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @09:16PM (#32608814)

    Poverty will be eradicated

    no, it will change because the definition of wealth will change.

    Poverty is not about being wealthy. As Wikipedia puts it, "poverty means being unable to afford basic human needs". If the basic human needs are provided for everyone, regardless of the social structure that emerges afterward there will by definition be no poverty.

    Why do you assume they won't be beholden to a landlord?

    Because land outside of cities is very cheap, and will get even cheaper if the demand to use it for food production disappears. Since the main point of living in cities is not having to drive 3 hours to work, and work will no longer be a part of many people's lives. For those who still want to work, the only kind of work left will largely be the kind you can do with a laptop transferring the fruits of your labor over the internet.

    Also, why shouldn't the concept of land ownership disappear entirely? Right now, its only legitimate purposes are privacy and managing agriculture and resource gathering rights. The second purpose will disappear, and the first one can be satisfied with dedicated laws that won't allow someone to gather up a whole bunch of land and rent it out at high prices.

  • Re:Nanites (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vrmlguy (120854) <{samwyse} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday June 17, 2010 @09:48PM (#32608978) Homepage Journal

    A good thing, I say. Poverty will be eradicated, Wall Street will disappear into uselessness and everyone will have 16 hours a day of time to do whatever they want. People will want to create new stuff, even lacking any normal incentive, simply out of boredom.

    Unfortunately, history disagrees. The Samoan islands were a utopia; food was freely available by wading out into the bay and shelter was almost unnecessary due to the clement weather. So, everyone's favorite pastime was fucking and drowning the excess babies. Compare this to the Mediterranean, where earlier ecological collapse had ruined the farmlands and you needed walls to keep out hostile neighbors. The upper class'es favorite pastime? Natural philosophy.

  • by dvgrn (1598297) on Thursday June 17, 2010 @11:23PM (#32609498) Homepage

    If I understand correctly, it creates two copies while self-destructing in the process. So it is, indeed, replicating.

    Now that's interesting.

    When i first read the headline I was befuddled. The whole point of the game is that its structures replicate themselves and create other things all over the map.

    But I don't recall ever seeing one that made multiple copies of itself, and then died.

    This is a tricky point. The people who say that this new pattern is not ultimately different from a glider are correct, in a sense -- the Gemini spaceship is technically a spaceship, not a replicator.

    It _does_ make two copies -- but the copies are of the two replicator units at the ends of the glider channels, not of the entire spaceship.

    But replicator units replicating themselves, even with the help of an outside stream of instructions (which is then reflected on to the next newly-created copy of a replicator unit) are still something that hasn't been seen before in the Life universe. So this is a much more impressive technical accomplishment than, say, finding a new variety of spaceship using a search utility.

    Gliders and spaceships "replicate" themselves in somewhat the same way that salt crystals or wildfires do -- that's just the way the universe works, you might say. But the Gemini pattern keeps itself going by continuously reconstructing itself, in *spite* of the way the universe normally works.

    The replicator units are like robots that include all the tools needed to make more robots exactly like themselves -- but they're radio-controlled and have no internal memory, so you have to pipe the actual construction recipe in from somewhere else. That means they're not self-contained self-replicators, true -- but they're a darn sight closer than a salt crystal or a glider!

    Eventually someone will build a pattern with an internal memory that can hold a complete self-construction recipe -- but the Gemini is an important milestone along the way to that goal, and the first true Life replicator will probably contain ideas taken from the Gemini, just as the Gemini contains ideas and mechanisms from preceding patterns.

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